In artificial forests, the glossy ganoderma, an elegant -- but tonic -- fungus that symbolizes longevity and good luck, is a rare sight.
However, Wang Jiwen managed to introduce the ganoderma into a fir forest in Lumian Village of Wuping, a mountain county in southeast China's Fujian Province. It is now flourishing, sprouting out of the ground like mushrooms.
"Forest-cultivated ganoderma sells for three or four times more than greenhouse cultivated," said Wang.P More and more forest farmers are looking to explore alternatives to selling felled trees.
As a native of Wuping, Wang has witnessed the implementation of measures to reform the collective-forest rights system, pioneered in 2001 under the guidance of Chinese President Xi Jinping, then governor of Fujian.
Starting with changes to the rights of households to arable land, collective-owned forests were largely untapped until the late 1990s.
"Everyone owned collective property in deed but no one cared, and deforestation was hard to stop," said Deng Suiming, then vice chief of Wuping. "So we decided to let villagers divide collective forests equally among themselves and distributed certificates."
The initiative was rolled out across the whole country, contracting 180 million hectares of collective forests to 500 million farmers.
"I got 17 hectares. I thought the forests belonged to me and I had the right to protect them," recalled Li Guilin, 67, a farmer from Jiewen Village, when remembering Dec. 30, 2001, the day he was granted the first forest right certificate in China.
"Once farmers became individual forest-owners," said Deng. "They took good care of their forests and sought returns, especially short-term returns."
Here lies the rub. Farmers own two kinds of forests -- ecological and economical. Trees on the former are not allowed to be felled; the latter, can be cut, but this must be within a certain quota and after a required growth period.
The government compensates farmers for preserving ecological forests at a yearly rate of about 250 yuan a hectare; a mere tenth of the profits produced by growing and cutting fir trees.
"The compensation for ecological forests is too low, and the required growth period for cutting planted trees is too long,"said Qiu Shanhui, vice chief of Wuping. "The best choice is to use the forests for new fields to till."